Volvo, Saab or Volvo - copywriters at Volvo

So, as a convinced Saab driver, I was suddenly an advertising copywriter for Volvo and tried in the most creative advertising agency in Switzerland to bring the local sales figures from less than 5000 units per year to the targeted 7500. But how do you do it? In Sweden it was the case that the conservatives were more likely to drive Saab (a man named Ove sends his regards) and the progressives were more likely to drive a Volvo.

As a Saab driver copywriter at Volvo
As a Saab driver copywriter at Volvo

In Switzerland it was exactly the opposite. There is hardly a Volvo driver without a beard, hat and dog. And this long before beards, hats and dogs were considered hip.

The most exciting thing about working for car brands is why people prefer certain car brands, love them more than anything and stay loyal to them for a lifetime, and not drive around with other car brands for a lot of money. You can learn a lot about psychology and expand your knowledge of human nature.

I still claim today that after five minutes of talking to a complete stranger, I can almost certainly say that he drives for a make of car. If you have a mullet hairstyle, a tanned complexion and white shoes before!

One of the main arguments against buying a Volvo back then was the ugly word Swedish tank. For many years, Volvo was heavily advertised with the quality and thickness of the Swedish steel that was used for the body. The average age of the Volvos enrolled in Switzerland was an impressive 20,7 years in the early XNUMXs.

But just, most of them didn't want to drive a car for more than two or three years and such arguments didn't count for much. And Swedish tanks again and again. Interestingly, in the meantime these people have all been driving around with giant SUVs that are much more likely to deserve the swear word "tanks".

The pictures show some of the advertisements for Volvo from the early 90s. No image campaign, but although there were actual sales advertisements, the Volvo philosophy was always noticeable. Unfortunately, I have no more pictures of two of the most beautiful advertisements.

One of the headlines for Volvo leasing was: If you can't buy a Volvo, you could lease one! And to the picture of a humpback Volvo: Your new Volvo will look this beautiful in 20 years! I still think it's not that bad. Or?

One more note on the Volvo 240 Classic ad. The advertisements for the last 240s built as a Classic Edition meant that the series rolled off the assembly line a year and a half longer than planned. So numerous were the orders for this indestructible classic, many of which are still in service today.

Text and pictures: Gigi

Previous parts:

Volvo or Saab or public transport?

Volvo or Saab, or Alfa Romeo?

8 thoughts on "Volvo, Saab or Volvo - copywriters at Volvo"

  • Nice flashback from a completely different perspective! Thanks for that, was fun to read.

  • Huh. I like to reminisce here. I'm not just a Saab driver, I'm also a Volvo driver. And at that time had three pieces of the "beautiful". Successively. And today I have a Saab and a Volvo. Unfortunately, I was never allowed to write texts for cars - I would have been immensely excited. But who knows what the writing experience will bring me.
    Thank you for the great contribution and for digging deep into the box with the historical material!

  • Very interesting post, thank you

  • @James Elsner,

    that's delicious. But it makes sense right away. It's fascinating how we drivers and buyers tick.


    yes, I do think that we are right if we assume the 20,7 years as the average lifespan in Switzerland.

    In D there was similar information / advertising. The talk was of the 19, X years that every Volvo that has ever been retired (!) Worldwide has been in operation on average. And it was said that you would have the record ...

    That fits quite well, doesn't it?

  • Dear James
    Yeah, that was a problem. It would have been different if a classy Carabinieri in his sleek uniform in an equally sleek Alfa had stopped the fallible handlebars,)

  • Dear Volvaab Driver
    Your argument sounds quite logical, but I'm afraid it was actually the case that in 1990 the average age of all Volvos in Switzerland was more than 20 years. With all the humpback volvos, Amazons, 1800s that drove around every day at that time. And with the low sales of new cars. Although I can't quite believe it either. Unfortunately I can no longer find the wording. But for sure, the average lifespan of a Volvo will still be around 20 years, if you want that.

  • Great contribution Gigi! You made me reminisce Thanks a lot for this.

    We worked in the auto industry around the same time. You for Volvo and I for Mercedes-Benz.

    Volvo had a huge image problem in Switzerland as we thought we knew from many market surveys.

    For decades it had been the preferred mobile vehicle of the Swiss race management, also known as the police. At the time, Volvo was the favorite in practically all police corps in Switzerland.

    For many non-Volvo drivers, the Volvo - police connection was a weighty argument not to buy a Volvo, as the investigations showed.

    At the time, we always did everything in our power not to have to deliver vehicles to the police.

    Our customers would absolutely not have appreciated being stopped and fined by a patrol in a Mercedes-Benz.

  • Thank you Gigi.

    Articles and pictures are fun. I suspect just a little blurring.
    20,7 years is probably the average age of all Volvos that have ever been de-registered (!) In Switzerland up to then (1990s) (average period of admission and operation of those de-registered)?

    Otherwise, the number would mean that every new registration / matriculation would be faced with an average 41,4 year old Volvo. With sales figures increasing over the years and decades, even such a proud age would not be nearly enough….

    Be that as it may, I take my hat off to the successful campaign. And thanks again for participating here today. Besides the headlines, I also really like the photos.

    From my own practice I know how demanding advertising in b / w on newsprint is. High gloss is a breeze. Newsprint is the challenge and the freestyle. Anyone who can do that can really do everything ...


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